New Lakewood Ranch triathlon club a community builder


New Lakewood Ranch triathlon club a community builder


Date: February 27, 2013
by: Josh Siegel | Staff writer




LAKEWOOD RANCH — Swim, bike, run.

The idea terrified Tommy Klauber two years ago, but the restaurant owner and chef needed to lose some weight and wanted an exciting means to do it.

“You have to run out of the water, then you have to put your shoes on,” Klauber said. “You get on your bike. Now, you’re on your bike, and you have to get off it, then you’re putting running shoes on, then you have to drink something and eat.

“You’re like, ‘This is crazy. What am I doing?’” he said.

Klauber, the owner of Polo Bar and Grill, and Amy Whittington, a personal trainer at Lakewood Ranch Country Club, hope to shed the fear that comes with triathlons through community and teamwork with their new club, Atlas Endurance, a Lakewood Ranch Multisport Club.

The club, which has 30 likes on Facebook, will hold its membership kick-off party March 6, at the Polo Grill.

Whittington, the club’s president and a certified USA Triathlon coach and former Ironman champion who competed in her first triathlon at 12 years old, always sees people — often alone — running, biking or swimming around Lakewood Ranch.

She helped start Storm, Sarasota’s triathlon club, in 2005, and saw a similar need in Lakewood Ranch, which regularly hosts 5K races and hosted its first half-marathon in January.

Lakewood Ranch already has separate running, biking and swimming clubs, but nowhere to bring them all together.

Whittington and Klauber, the club’s vice president, aren’t seeking to groom the next Ironman champion or form a powerhouse team to compete with the Storm.

They hope, with monthly meetings and cycling jerseys — fitted with a graphic of the club’s mascot, Ralph the mighty sandhill crane — and no barrier to entry, residents will have a place to socialize, develop healthy habits and simply learn about triathlons.

“We have no idea where this can go,” Whittington said. “It’s something where we can learn from each other, feed off each other, maybe just cheer on each other. It can be intimidating out there training or exercising by yourself.”

Whittington says the club will join the USA Triathlon, the national governing body for triathlons, which will give the club entrance into races.

The club has a board, and members will pay a fee.

Members will meet at a common place, such as Claremont Park in Lakewood Ranch, to run and bike.

Swimming might take place at Sarasota’s Nathan Benderson Park, the Lakewood Ranch YMCA and/or open water swimming at local beaches, or other locations.

Whittington got her introduction to triathlons by watching her father compete in Ironmans in Hawaii as a child.

When she was 15 years old, they moved to Florida and ran on the beach together, biked together and attended spinning classes together.

“That was our time,” Whittington said. “My goal in life has always been to take what he did … and I got really good at it.”

She met Klauber and George Kruse, an Atlas endurance board member, through seeing them around the community, about two years ago, and later gave swim lessons to both.

That’s when Klauber turned to triathlons. He competed in an Ironman 70.3 last year and plans to enter a half-Ironman in May. He’s lost 50 pounds along the way.

“Once you do it, the adrenaline kicks in and you think, ‘This is awesome,’” Klauber said.

“Part of what’s nice about this sport is setting your own pace and goals and getting your own satisfaction, whatever that is.”

Contact Josh Siegel at


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Currently 2 Responses

  • 1.
  • This is Ms. Whittington,

    I do appreciate all the comments below. I think having an article written can be dangerous sometimes as what we tell the actual author does not always get posted correctly. There were several things in the article that were false. We did not get to read before it was published. I am an IM. I am not an IM Champion, my father is. I am certified in more things than I have time to write and am not an updated certified USAT coach however have been for several years. I was in the ORINGINAL Sharks group and my friends in that group can verify that.
    I am sorry you were so offended by the article.
    My goal with the new multi-spot club is to promote wellness in the community where I work and live.
    I truly hope you can let any issues that you have with me stay with me and not affect this great group we have.
    Sincerely, Amy E. Whittington
  • Amy Whittington
    Fri 8th Mar 2013
    at 9:30am
  • 2.
  • Mr. Siegel,

    I don't usually respond to articles but as a multiple Ironman finisher placing in the top 5 in my age group, qualifying for IM Hawaii, and one of the original members of the Sarasota Sharks Triathlon Club which became the Sarasota Storm Triathlon Club, I felt compelled to comment.

    Amy Whittington is NOT and Ironman Champion; Ms. Whittington has finished two Ironman events. A Ironman Champion is someone who wins their age group and/or finishes high enough to qualify to compete in the Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

    Ms. Whittington did NOT help to start the Sarasota Sharks / Storm Triathlon Club. The club was started by John Letourneau with the assistance of a few others. Ms. Whittington had no part in that.

    If you go to the USA Triathlon web site ( which is the governing body for certifying someone as a "triathlon coach" you will not find Amy Whittington's name listed as a USAT Coach.

    Finishing an Ironman is very admirable- misrepresenting the truth and taking credit for someone else's hard work is not.

    I think is wonderful that Mr. Klauber and Mr. Kruse want to share this great sport with others in their community. Triathlon is a great sport filled with (mostly) great people. It would be nice for this club to get off the ground on an honest foot.
  • Iron Person
    Sun 3rd Mar 2013
    at 8:41am
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